With five games left, not to mention two cup finals and one trophy – the Boux Avenue (Ryman) Women’s Cup already in the bag – Karen Hills’ side are eight and 10 points clear of Cardiff and Coventry at the top and four ahead of second-placed Charlton, who have played three games more.
Wendy Martin, Kelley Blanchflower, Bianca Baptiste and Lucia Leon were all on target against Pompey at Gosport Borough FC.
Portsmouth Ladies 1-4 Spurs Ladies
FA Women’s Premier League South
Report from Khalid Karimullah at Gosport Borough FC, The Aerial Direct Stadium
Photographs with thanks to Jordan Hampton
Spurs Ladies’ culture of accountability ensured a 4-1 victory on the south coast against Portsmouth – a result which took the Lilywhites a step closer to the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division crown.
Off the back of retaining the Boux Avenue (Ryman) Women’s Cup, Karen Hills’ team came out of the blocks with pace and guile. Riana Soobadoo won possession driving forward, she played Kelley Blanchflower away who sprayed out to the overlapping Leah Rawle, whose cross flew ahead of Wendy Martin.
At the other end, Natasha Stephens whipped in a deep free-kick to the far-post, Sammy Quayle came within inches of meeting it with Martin doing well to head away. Goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne, on the half-volley, then pinpointed towards Martin, she popped it to Bianca Baptiste (pictured, below) whose dipper on the volley was held by Emily Paines.
The breakthrough came in an exhilarating exchange. Blanchflower’s one-two with Martin saw her set free, she broke to the byline prior to crossing back to the latter, who guided her header home.
Moments later, Josie Green burst forward off a one-two with Baptiste, which saw Rebekah Tonks hook away the oncoming danger.
For Portsmouth, Stephens’ cross found Lauren Peck, whose piledriver from the inside left channel crashed wide of the right-hand post. Lucia Leon then exchanged with Blanchflower, her deep cross dropped perfectly for Martin who headed inches over the top. Martin found Baptiste out wide moments later, who popped it to Sophie Mclean setting up for a strike which bounced wide of the right-hand post.
With 31 on the clock, Baptiste swept a pass down the channel to Rawle bursting on with pace, whose cross evaded Martin and found Blanchflower to half-volley back across goal to double the advantage.
Pompey came close to responding immediately. Stephens broke to the edge of the area laying a pass into Gemma Hillier’s path, who paused before seeing her strike miss the woodwork by a whisker.
As the game went on, Soobadoo picked out Baptiste, her byline cross found Martin at the near post who stroked across the face of goal, coming within inches of finding the target.
With four minutes left of the half, the visitors found a third. Leon slipped Martin through, her strike across goal was palmed out by Paines towards Baptiste, who emphatically powered home.
Blanchflower then combined with Baptiste bursting into the area, her strike across goal was palmed away by Paines.
The hosts grabbed one back 10 minutes after the restart. Katie James hit the post on the stretch, Quayle latched onto the rebound and played Hillier through to sweetly strike on the volley, her effort dipping in. Just three minutes later, Leon created space inside the area to find the gap and finish with precision, thwarting any comeback.
Soobadoo then burst forward with purpose, dinking to Baptiste whose cross evaded Blanchflower. Soobadoo played in Blanchflower and the lay-off to Rawle saw Nikita Whinnett head the cross inches across goal.
Soobadoo hustled Jade Simmons, setting up a strike from 25 yards which dipped kindly for Paines. Whinnett made up ground breaking the line and let fly from 20 yards, her shot almost creeping through Paines’ legs.
Spurs Ladies: Toni-Anne Wayne, Lucia Leon, Jenna Schillaci (Eartha Pond 45), Renee Hector, Leah Rawle, Josie Green (Nikita Whinnett 62), Sophie Mclean, Riana Soobadoo, Kelley Blanchflower, Wendy Martin (Maya Vio 69), Bianca Baptiste.